"'You always start with the dessert, that's your problem,' Emory said. And he was right, I was already eating the pudding. One thing I'd discovered from years of institutional food was that a certain kind of custard survived the huge kitchens, even flourished there. The little odd square dessert in TV dinners; the airplane cobbler; I still remembered a butterscotch pudding from a dormitory cafeteria. And it was impossible to resist a dessert when I hadn't had enough sleep. This was warm custard with berries.""Desserts is stressed spelled backwards." As much as I'd like to take credit, I didn't realize that on my own; a Dylan's Candy Bar T-shirt alerted me to this fun fact.
-- Mona Simpson, The Lost Father
Mayan/Ann is a little bit annoying in this sequel, but I guess I can forgive her. The girl was stressed, ergo she ate plenty of desserts on her search for 'the lost father.' And so it should be.
I, on the other hand, crave desserts even when I'm not especially stressed. The dessert I endeavored to make on this very un-stressful Sunday afternoon was daifuku: mochi stuffed with a sweet filling, usually anko, or sweet red bean paste. The process is surprisingly easy and it involves a microwave. Yay for radiation!
5-minute Microwavable Mochi
3/4 cup sweet rice flour (mochiko flour)
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 cup sugar (optional - omit if you're going to fill the mochi with sweet red bean paste)
Tapioca or corn starch, for shaping
Combine all the ingredients except tapioca/corn starch in a microwavable bowl; stir until smooth. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes on high. While that's happening, sprinkle a generous layer of tapioca or corn starch on a cutting board or other clean surface.
When the mochi is finished, it will appear opaque and sticky. It shouldn't be runny at all. Remove the bowl with an towel or oven mitt, since it will be hot. Undo the plastic wrap, being careful to avoid the hot steam that will escape. Use a spoon to scoop the mochi onto the prepared cutting board. It will look a little scary at this point. Don't panic if you can't get it off the spoon. Just do your best.
Corn starch will be your best friend for the next few minutes. Make sure to coat your fingers with it before attempting to handle the monstrously sticky mochi. Cut it into manageable chunks with a plastic knife (amazingly, the mochi doesn't seem to stick to it much, and it gives a clean cut). You can either eat it like this, on top of ice cream or frozen yogurt (a la Pinkberry), or you can make daifuku - filled mochi.
Unfortunately, you may find that your fingers will get slightly grouchy from handling the hot mochi, but it may be too hard to shape if it gets too cool. You can be bold and wait until it's cooled before shaping it, if you wish. I, however, have the memory of a gluttonous goldfish, so I forgot about all that scorched finger nonsense upon taking the first heavenly bite. Hopefully you will, too.